Congressional Republicans Leaking Classified Information is a Distraction

*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*

This particular election cycle has been, if nothing else, entertaining and revealing and there are still two-and-a-half tortuous months to go.  Of course the entertainment is courtesy of a television celebrity posing as a serious politician running for the nation’s highest office, but the revelation is that the left hasn’t learned any lessons about what is really important to the electorate. Instead of addressing issues that impact voters, particularly at the state level, there is an inordinate amount of time being spent  making a gargantuan deal out of an incident that is typical of Republicans; and insanely believing or expecting they will have to face legal consequences for violating an obscure section of the U.S. Code.

Over the past couple of days the BIG outrage on the Left was that after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) followed the law and handed over requested information regarding the worn-out Clinton email farce, Republicans are in serious trouble for breaking the law. What is really curious for such an Earth-shattering story is that for all the myriad articles screaming about House Republicans violating the law by “leaking classified information,” only one site actually cited the section of the U.S. Code Republicans “may” have violated.

It is true the FBI issued a statement upon releasing the requested information to the Republican House Oversight Committee, but for dog’s sake the intelligence organization did not “just threaten the entire Republican Party with prosecution.” What the FBI actually said when releasing the requested documents to House Republicans was:

The material contains classified and other sensitive information and is being provided with the expectation it will not be disseminated or disclosed without FBI concurrence.”

That statement is a damn far cry from “threatening the entire Republican Party with prosecution,” but saying “the expectation it will not be disseminated or disclosed” isn’t nearly as sensational or distracting. For the record, the actual part of the law releasing that “sensitive information” prohibits is 18 U.S. Code 798 – Disclosure of classified information. The specific section applicable to the Republican Congress’ part in this latest distraction is Section 3 subsection (c) that says:

Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government…

(3) concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government…Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”

Whether or not Republicans releasing information on the FBI’s interview with Hillary Clinton is “prejudicial to the safety or interest of the U.S., or benefits any foreign government” is not entire clear; that decision is the purview of the Department of Justice and the FBI. If history is any indication, it is relatively certain there will be no more investigation or prosecution than there was during the George W. Bush administration when Congress released “classified information” and nobody went to jail.

In that instance, in October 2001 George W. Bush was incensed that some in Congress leakedclassified information” to the media the administration claimed put the troops at risk. Instead of a publicity-driven outrage, Bush simply informed Congress they were out of line and reminded them of the adage “loose lips sink ships;” he also placed restrictions on who in Congress would be privy to “classified information” going forward.

The then Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss) told reporters that

The president’s made his point — we need to be very careful about what we reveal.” Then Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschel (D-SD) parroted Mr. Lott’s comments and said, “The president has reiterated … his deep concern that we all share about how critical it is that sensitive information be treated as such and that we use more discipline and greater discretion in the release of that information.” That was the end of the “classified information leak” by Congress story and it is noteworthy that in that case the information “leaked” did have consequences contrary to the interests of the United States and were likely “highly classified.”

It is against the law to leak classified information and there have been investigations and prosecutions when it is serious. For example, when government employees in the security sector steal classified government information and pass it on to foreign governments, the culprit is going to be in serious legal trouble. Likewise, when the vice president of the United States reveals the name of an active CIA field agent as an act of retribution, somebody is going to jail; even if it’s the vice president’s lackey taking the fall until the president commutes their sentence for taking one for the team.

What is a mystery is that it seems everyone and their dog knew Republicans were going to share “classified information” with the media long before the FBI announced it was complying with a Congressional request, and yet it was portrayed as a stunning revelation. It is also a mystery why Republicans think that continuing to beat the dead horse that’s the fabricated Clinton email scam will sway any voters, but that is their problem and something the left should ignore.

Look, this is an important election and believe it or not there is more involved than the race for the White House, or Republicans leaking notes from the FBI’s interview with former Secretary Clinton as part of their taxpayer-funded campaign. Democrats have a world of information to crush Republicans with in November, particularly in the states, and that is where they should devote their focus. Remember, if Republicans can take control of five more state legislatures, they will have enough power to convene a constitutional convention and transform the Constitution to comport with evangelical and Koch abominations the nation or its people will never survive.

There is too much at stake for the Left to get caught up in Republican distractions, and paying any heed to leaked information about a dead topic is a major distraction from the critical issues facing the nation. It also doesn’t help the left’s cause to make claims that have little basis in fact. It is true that the FBI told Congress there was classified information in the requested documentation, but they did not threaten to prosecute the entire Republican Party because they know it is not within their purview, something many pundits on the Left and the Right still haven’t figured out.